Whilst Horatius was exclaiming in this manner, and the decemvirs could not discover any limit either to their anger or forbearance, nor could they see to what
the thing would come, Caius Claudius, who was uncle to Appius the decemvir, delivered an address more like entreaties than reproach, beseeching him by the shade of his own brother and of his
father, that he would hold in recollection the civil society in which he had been born rather than the confederacy nefariously entered into with his colleagues; that he besought this much more on Appius's own account, than for the sake of the commonwealth.
For that the commonwealth would assert its rights in spite of them, if it could not obtain them with their consent. But that from great contests great animosities arise; the result of the latter he dreads."
Though the decemvirs forbad them to speak on any other subject than that which they had submitted to them, they felt too, much respect for Claudius to interrupt him. He therefore concluded his address by moving that it was their wish that no decree of the senate should be passed.
And all understood the matter thus, that they were judged by Claudius to be private citizens; and many of the men of consular standing expressed their assent.
Another measure proposed, more harsh in appearance, possessed much less efficacy; one which ordered the patricians to assemble to elect an interrex; for by passing any resolution they judged, that those persons who convened the senate were magistrates of some kind or other, whilst the person who recommended that no decree of the senate should be passed, had thereby declared them private citizens.
When the cause of the decemvirs was now sinking, Lucius Cornelius Maluginensis, brother of Marcus Cornelius [p. 208]
the decemvir, having been purposely reserved from among the consular men to close the debate, by affecting an anxiety about the war, defended his brother and his colleagues thus:
saying, "he wondered by what fatality it had occurred, that those who had been candidates for the decemvirate, should attack the decemvirs, either as secondaries,1
or as principals: or when no one disputed for so many months whilst the state was disengaged, whether legal magistrates had the management of affairs, why do they now sow discord, when the enemies are nearly at the gate; unless that in a state of confusion they think that what they are aiming at will be less seen through.
But that it was not just that any one should prejudice so important a cause, whilst our minds are occupied with a more momentous concern. It was his opinion, that the point which Valerius and Horatius urged, viz. that the decemvirs had gone out of office before the ides of May, should be discussed in the senate, when the wars which are now impending are over, and the commonwealth has been restored to tranquillity: and that Appius Claudius should now prepare to take notice that an account is to be rendered by him of
the comitia which he himself held for electing decemvirs, whether they were elected for one year, or until
the laws which were wanting were ratified. It was his opinion that all other matters should be laid aside for the present, except the war; and if they thought that the reports regarding it were propagated without foundation, and that not only the couriers, but the ambassadors of the Tusculans also had stated what was false, he thought that scouts should be despatched to bring back more certain information; but if credit were given both to the couriers and the ambassadors, that the levy should be held at the
very earliest opportunity; that the decemvirs should lead the armies, whither it may seem proper to each; and that no other matter should take precedence.